Published February 19, 2012
NEWARK , N.J. – Ricky Rubio has heated up the league's highlight reels during his inaugural yet abbreviated NBA season, leaving fans and teammates in awe going all the way back to his first game with the Minnesota Timberwolves -- a preseason appearance.
Off the court, the Spanish boy wonder has found himself at times heating up the kitchen stove when he has a chance, rekindling memories of the tasty pan tumaca topped off with ham or the exquisite rice dishes and seafood that make up the culinary tradition of the Catalonia region.
From the look of his eyes, the backcourt wiz kid of the Timberwolves would definitely need an assist for those dishes.
So instead of running the risk of fouling up the recipes for his favorite dishes, Chef Rubio resorts to some meals that are easier for him to prepare.
"I like to cook but not things that are too complicated. Instead, I settle on something quick, healthy and nutritious," Rubio told Fox News Latino during a recent trip to Newark, N.J. to play the Nets.
"I haven't progressed that much in the kitchen," Rubio joked. "I'll cook some fresh pasta. I always try to eat a little healthier by having chicken (and) some turkey grilled or something similar and a few other things."
Rubio, like the rest of his European, Asian and Latin American counterparts, has had to adapt to living away from home -- this time across the Atlantic waters and in another continent. The fact the Rubio turned pro as a teen has certainly prepped him for being on his own, although it's not the same.
There's no looking back for Rubio, whose 8.6 assists per game are good for fourth place in the NBA and tops amongst all rookies. He leads the league in steals with 74 and is tied for the lead in steals per game with 2.4 (Mike Conley and Chris Paul).
"It's a change that I needed. It's a change that is going to help me not only in the aspect of basketball but in the aspect of myself as a person, how to evolve ..."
Guys like Martell Webster and Kevin Love have eased Rubio into the American ways that they have grown used to.
Webster has known Rubio for a while now after having worked out with him in the past in Los Angeles during the league's offseason in the summer.
He just wishes he could draw Rubio into a match of any type in the various video games consoles but Rubio is the type to spend his time on other things.
"That kid is different. In his downtime he doesn't play video games. He just goes home and watches movies," Webster said.
"I told him if there's anything he needs, he can ask me. That kid is a different kid. He lives and breaths basketball."
Webster, who also teamed in Portland with fellow Spaniards Rudy Fernández and Sergio Rodríguez, points out that since Rubio turned pro as a teenager, his transition to the NBA and this country has been a smooth one.
"The guy has been a pro since he was 14, so establishing to the pro-style of basketball, he's already done that. He's come over here and shown his style of basketball and going into the NBA has been a quick adjustment for him."
Love, whom the Timberwolves are trying to sign to an extension but have yet to offer him the max dollars in order to keep him paired up with Rubio, raved about Rubio, who many doubted would handle the transition from the European-style of basketball to what's expected of him, night in and night out.
"He's adapted pretty well in the short amount of time," said the Timberwolves' center, who also admitted that while he's shown Rubio some of the top places to dine out in Minnesota, he has yet to share any cooking tips with him.
"He's a smart kid and he's been playing professional ball since a young age. He's fun to have around and things seem to come easy for him."
Love is really just content to have Rubio "serve us up good passes."
For a while rumor was that Rubio would force a trade out of the Twin Cities but that hasn't been the case as he has embraced the city and its frigid, wintry climate.
"Minnesota is a calm city where you can live comfortably and it not a big city either, so you don't have to always be aware of what it is that you're going to go do. There's little to do and it's very calm," Rubio said.
"In all truthfulness, I like it. But there's no place like home."